This is the 3rd part of a three-part series of articles. In the first article, “ Job Hunting: How to Launch a Job Search Strategy - Part 1 of 3 , ” I briefly touch on the importance of building rapport with decision makers and influencers through a "touch campaign" - a series of thoughtful yet calculated emails. You can also read Part 2 here, " Job Hunting: How to Make a Hit List of Target Companies - Part 2 of 3."
In this article, we're going to break down the science of exactly how to create a communication strategy to reach out to decision makers and influencers at the companies you want to work for.
One of the most important techniques you must learn in job hunting is how to communicate with decision makers, influencers and contacts within companies you want to work for. Most people "go for the kill" with the first email or InMail. They'll find a contact at a company and ask them point blank in the first communication if there are any positions open or if there is one, if they would consider their resume in the review process. This is the worst thing you can do.
You haven't earned the right to ask for help.
You must build rapport first.
You must build rapport before you ask for something. It's the Law of Relationships (I just made that up LOL). Build rapport first over the course of several weeks and watch the magic happen. Yes, it takes longer. Yes, it requires more work on your end. But nothing is for free and hard work always pays off.
Below is a sample suggestion on how you might go about building rapport with someone you have identified as having influence or being a decision maker at a company you want to work at. This is all done through LinkedIn.
TOUCH 1 - LinkedIn Invite: Send a Customized Invite
Purpose: Start the conversation with a personalized LinkedIn Invite.
Whoever it is; decision makers, people who could be your boss, a recruiter or an influencer within the company, you want to send a LinkedIn invite and customize your introduction. Never ever ever send a generic invite. You could say something like:
There are dozens of customized types of invite copy you could write. Get creative, but do NOT ask if they are hiring or if they will look at your resume in your invite. You haven't built rapport yet.
TOUCH 2 - LinkedIn InMail: Say Thank You
Purpose: Build rapport by letting them know you appreciate them accepting your invite AND it's an excuse to include your special "signature" (below)
When: Immediately after/within 24 hours of accepting your invite.
Thank them for accepting your invite. LinkedIn now puts an InMail in your inbox when someone excepts your invite. Respond to the contact, thanking them for accepting your invite. Here is what it might look like:
It's not just about thanking them. You're using this reply to also include your SIGNATURE which includes your contact information AND a link to your resume.
This is so powerful! Why? Because you’re thanking them for connecting AND you’re subtly (key word here is subtly) letting them know that you are job hunting without saying “Hey! I need a job!”
Most people can’t help but click on your resume download link. How do you create this link? Create a free DropBox account and upload your resume there. In DropBox , there is a way to copy the URL link of file you uploaded. Once you figure that out, you can take that URL, go over to bit.ly , create a free account and then create a customized shortened URL like the one used in the example above.
TOUCH 3 - LinkedIn InMail: Share an Industry Article
Purpose: Build rapport by sharing information of interest to them.
When: One to Two Weeks after Touch 2
Find an industry article to share. Maybe you got a note back on LinkedIn from them from Touch 2, maybe you didn’t. But if interest in meeting you hasn’t been expressed, you’re ready for Touch 3. Find a great article relevant to their industry or their profession. Read it and share it in an InMail to them with your constructive comments. End the email with, "Take care and have a great day!" along with the same signature as above. Don't ask for anything. Just give.
TOUCH 4 - LinkedIn InMail: Find Something in Common
Purpose: Build rapport finding something in common to talk about.
When: One week after Touch 3
Re-review their profile. Do you have something in common? Find the common “thing” and ask them about it. Did you attend the same college? Even if you didn't you could mention that you have a friend who's daughter is thinking about attending that college and wanted their opinion. If you can't find anything, then look at the LinkedIn Groups they are a part of (at the bottom of their profile). Are they part of a group that interests you? Asking about the LinkedIn Groups they're a part of is a great ice breaker InMail:
Did you notice that I used the same signature? Always always include your full signature with EVERY InMail. By now, you should get at least one kind response from them because you're adding value and asking for nothing in return. If you don't, that's OK, we're going keep trying. In marketing, we know it takes 6 to 7 "touches" to a prospect before they express interesting in buying. That's what you're doing here.
TOUCH 5 - LinkedIn Social: Liking, Commenting, Sharing
Purpose: Build rapport by liking, commenting or sharing their status updates AND any articles that they may have written on LinkedIn.
When/Frequency: Begin the week of Touch 3 with 1 to 2 a week. Gradually increase to liking, commenting or sharing 2 to 4 of their status updates and articles/posts each week (you don't want to look like a stalker). This is ongoing.
"Like", "Share" and "Comment" on their content! Does this person write or share status updates on LinkedIn? Go "Like" the things they are sharing. Do they write articles on LinkedIn? LinkedIn calls them "Posts" (like this one). You'll know when you view their profile - you'll see them at the top of their profile:
If you don't now how to see all of a person's status updates on LinkedIn, look at the image below:
TOUCH 6 - LinkedIn InMail: Discuss an Article on Their Website
Purpose: Build rapport by finding an article on their company website and sending the link to them with your comments and thoughts.
When: One week after Touch 4
Find an interesting article on their company website, READ it, and send the contact an InMail with your positive input about the article or press release. Maybe you might even find an article that THEY authored. Remember to ALWAYS end with the same signature as above listed in Touch 2. Don't ask for anything!
TOUCH 7 - LinkedIn InMail: Time to Close the Deal
Purpose: Determine if they have hiring needs.
When: One week after Touch 6
This is Money Question: By now, some rapport should be built. You should have back and forth engagement from them. Even if the reply was just a "thank you," that's still engagement. As long as there has been dual communication, you're ready for Touch 7.
One idea is to send an InMail stating you heard at a recent networking event (or private party through a friend, etc.) that their company was about to go through a growth spurt and ask them if they happen to know which departments might be positively impacted.
They might say yes, they're hiring, and ask for your resume, although they had it all along in your signature (people see what they want to see). Even if they're not hiring, at this point, since rapport has been established, they may offer to hand walk your resume into the right person (unless they are that person).
These are some ideas for your touch strategy. What other ideas do you have for building rapport in a job search?
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